Guide for the Perplexed, by Moses Maimonides, Friedländer tr. , at sacred-texts.com
THE original meaning of the word kisse, "throne," requires no comment. Since men of greatness and authority, as, e.g., kings, use the throne as a seat, and "the throne" thus indicates the rank, dignity, and position of the person for whom it is made, the Sanctuary has been styled "the throne," inasmuch as it likewise indicates the superiority of Him who manifests Himself, and causes His light and glory to dwell therein. Comp. "A glorious throne on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary" (Jer. xvii. 12). For the same reason the heavens are called "throne," for to the mind of him who observes them with intelligence they suggest the Omnipotence of the Being which has called them into existence, regulates their motions, and governs the sublunary world by their beneficial influence: as we read, "Thus saith the Lord, The heavens are my throne and the earth my footstool" (Isa. lxvi. 1); i.e., they testify to my Existence, my Essence, and my Omnipotence, as the throne testifies to the greatness of him who is worthy to occupy it.
This is the idea which true believers should entertain; not, however, that the Omnipotent, Supreme God is supported by any material object; for God is incorporeal, as we shall prove further on; how, then, can He be said to occupy any space, or rest on a body? The fact which I wish to point out is this: every place distinguished by the Almighty, and chosen to receive His light and splendour, as, for instance, the Sanctuary or the Heavens, is termed "throne"; and, taken in a wider sense, as in the passage "For my hand is upon the throne of God" (Exod. xvii. 16), "the throne" denotes
here the Essence and Greatness of God. These, however (the Essence and Greatness of God) need not be considered as something separate from the God Himself or as part of the Creation, so that God would appear to have existed both without the throne, and with the throne: such a belief would be undoubtedly heretical. It is distinctly stated, "Thou, O Lord, remainest for ever; Thy throne from generation to generation" (Lam. v. 19). By "Thy throne" we must, therefore, understand something inseparable from God. On that account, both here and in all similar passages. the word "throne" denotes God's Greatness and Essence, which are inseparable from His Being.
Our opinion will be further elucidated in the course of this Treatise.